What Universal’s Dark Universe Needs To Succeed
Universal is definitely doing some things right as they prepare to launch their Dark Universe. First? Branding. Marvel has the MCU and their various ‘phases’ of development. DC has missed the mark in this area. The DCEU doesn’t have a central look or message. Just a series of (arguably) divisive films.
Universal released a trailer that promotes the films to come by highlighting the classic monster movies of old. They have quite a challenge again. After all, reviving a seemingly (pun intended) dead genre isn’t easy. We’re all vampire/monster-ed out after the Twilight era.
So how do you build a successful cinematic universe? Whether you like the films or not, you have to look at Marvel’s track record for a blue print. The first step is to build a strong foundation with a big star and a movie that stands on its own.
For Marvel is was Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man. Universal is hoping Tom Cruise can do the same in 2017’s The Mummy.
DC also launched their universe with a strong standalone film. I loved Man of Steel but Batman v Superman was a let down. Specifically because Warner Bros focused too much on building a universe instead of telling a good story.
I think this could be The Mummy’s downfall. Will they focus on telling a good story or setting up the films to come?
That’s the lesson. DC had a strong start but rushed straight to Justice League. Marvel took their time and established their heroes one by one before uniting them in The Avengers.
Universal needs to show restraint as momentum builds. So far they are doing a fantastic job especially when it comes to casting.
In addition to Tom Cruise, Universal has a fantastic Jekyll/Hyde in Russel Crowe. Now they’ve brought in Javier Bardem to play Frankenstein and Johnny Depp to play The Invisible Man. We don’t know if Sofia Boutella will make it out of The Mummy ‘alive’ but she rounds out a stellar cast.
Here’s where the restraint comes back into play. My biggest fear for this universe is the idea that it all has to lead to ‘something’. Marvel has their Avengers and the upcoming Infinity War. DC has their Justice League and their inevitable clash with Darkseid.
I don’t want a team up for this universe. Of course they should all be connected but do we really want Dracula, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, The Mummy, Jekyll/Hyde, The Wolfman and more in one film? I’ll be honest, it sounds cool in theory but I want good monster movies first.
If it works, Universal will have the Dark Universe, The Fast & Furious & Jurassic World in their stable of blockbuster franchises. Not bad when you have to compete with the likes of Disney and their Marvel/Star Wars 1-2 punch.
However, before we get that far, The Mummy has to deliver. If it does, Universal’s Dark Universe has a bright future.